With the global pandemic, I am in the same unfortunate position as 40 million other Americans. I was also a casualty of the 2008 recession, after which I found a career I loved, working with clients on their workforce solutions. This time looks and feels vastly different — scary and crippling are two words that come to mind. For me, I am viewing this as a just another fork in the road where I have an opportunity to reinvent myself and have a new “first day of the rest of my life.” And my experience in the workforce solutions industry can only serve as a guide.
I’ve had many such “first days.” I have always described myself as a late bloomer, a person that does not fit into a typical textbook description of life — college, dorms, degree, marriage and family. My belief is that in many ways, my experiences have given me a richness similar to those of a temporary worker who has chosen to undertake different jobs in different industries and companies. Sure, the temporary worker’s life may have been more stable if he or she had followed a linear career path as an employee. But then they would not have had the unexpected variety, challenges, learnings and resilience that being a temp worker provides. Here’s how the many “first days” played out for me.
Being a teenager in a small Midwestern town in the 1980s and 1990s, it was easy to get caught up in all the hype of creating the perfect path for what life should be like after high school. After all, that was the “first day of the rest of your life” and it had to be perfect. I attended a local community college and explored challenges and opportunities and decided to move away to attend a university to finish up my degree – queue another “first day of the rest of your life” moment. I spent the next few years working in the mental health industry, attempting to catch everything life was throwing at me. I genuinely believe that we all are given “pauses” in life that enable us to re-evaluate what is in front of us. During this chapter in my life, I decided to make a physical move to the beautiful Southwest. It was time to step up my game, produce better results and reinvent myself. I wanted to make this chapter more beautiful and positive than the last.
After a few years of more unexpected challenges, opportunities and growth moments, I found an organization willing to take a chance on a late bloomer. As a result, I spent many years with clients on their workforce solutions and I loved it. Those first few years were filled with professional refinement and growth, with leaders that took an interest in me and my career development. I worked extremely hard to take the necessary strides to demonstrate my value and was able to advance my career. During this career advancement I was graced by an unexpected challenge — motherhood. With the support of my partner and family, I was able to effectively balance two especially important pieces of my life and was happy with how well things were going; 2020 was set to be nothing less than great. If you had told me in January that unemployment would grace my doorstep, I would have challenged you. But then, none of us saw this coming.
Trying to make sense of everything that is happening today is impossible. When impossibility presents itself, it is natural to bow down and accept defeat and reluctantly start over. But that is not how this story ends or how the next chapter begins. My suggestion to you, if you have found yourself anticipating another “first day of the rest of your life” moment: trust in your skills and qualities that you have been polishing for this moment. You did not come this far to bow down and accept defeat — rise to the challenge ahead of you. This likely will not be your last “first day of the rest of your life” moment, but it can be one of the best you have experienced yet. Keep your head up and trust in yourself — bring it on, world!